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How to succeed at remote audits

Monday 30th March 2020

How to succeed at remote audits

This video shares some of our experience of remote audits, and remote auditing in the first few weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are publishing this to give some useful insights to organisations that are going to be using remote audit as a process in the next few weeks. For more information on how your Certification Body will be completing your remote audits, please contact them directly.

The case for a remote audit and remote auditing

We have found that the remote audits completed so far have been:

  1. More focused on the subject matter
  2. More prepared
  3. Less wasted time on chatter

The current COVID-19 crisis means we cannot risk face to face audits for fear of spreading infection Certification Bodies have said that they will be completing remote audits for the foreseeable future. CBs are contacting their clients to identify where a remote audit can take place. This will help them understand the extent to which the current audit programmes can be maintained.

Audits may be split, so that systems that can be evidenced using a remote audit can be completed, with potential site visits being made at a later stage to complete the audits. Some companies may be closing down part of their organisations, so specific details of this should be discussed with your CB. If a remote audit is not appropriate, your CB may delay your audits for a period of six months, which will give you breathing space while the pandemic is affecting operations.

What is a remote audit and how do I do it?

A remote audit is where an auditor connects with appropriate technology to speak to you, and gather the evidence needed. 

Pre-audit information

To assess whether a remote audit is appropriate, you will need to provide your Certification Body with some information. Usually, they will send you this information in a questionnaire:

  • Does your organisation have the technological capability and network stability to support a remote audit?
  • Which communication platform do you use – e.g. Skype, Teams, Zoom, Web-conferencing?
  • What are your security policies for sharing information
  • What level of operation does your business currently have in place?
  • What sites are you operating from?
  • Have you outsourced any processes?
  • How has your Disaster Recovery or Business Continuity plan worked so far?
  •  How have your processes been affected?
  • Have you got a plan in place?

Prepare well - Pre-audit

Key to a good remote audit is preparation with the Auditor. To make sure the remote audit is effective, review the audit plan with the auditor.

REMEMBER: Add time in to test the technology. Put aside 30 mins at the beginning of the day to test it. Agree the procedure if the connections are lost.

During the audit

When you’re in the audit, consider these tips that we found worked well for us! Depending on the audit, we found it useful to have:

  • 1 person discussing content with the auditor
  • 1 person acting as a ‘gopher’ to open up and share documents as well as take notes to prepare supplementary information

To maintain an effective pace to the audit, it is useful to have information prepared in advance. Opening up documents can take time, so if you can have support, it is helpful.

If you are on your own, make sure you have a paper and pad ready and consider pausing the call while you collect everything together.

You can share information via email (remember your Info Sec policies) but make sure you are clear with the auditor where the evidence is that they are looking for.

Remember….

  • Be careful of noise and other distractions.  
  • Warn other people that you speak to in the room that they can be heard on microphones. 
  • Agree the outcomes of the remote audit. Don’t forget to clarify the next steps if there is follow up needed. 

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Adam Faiers - Director

Adam has been working on Quality and Environmental management systems for most of his career in small, medium and corporate organisations. A keen advocate of the ISO approach as a platform for improvement, Adam ensures that systems are practical and useful for Managers and Staff to use.

Following a number of years working on software development projects, Adam has diversified into Information Security and Business Continuity management. Keen to formalise his industry experience, he is currently undertaking a Diploma in Business Continuity Management at Buckingham University.

Adam has a PhD from Cranfield University and now supports the MSc Environmental Management programmes through the advisory panel and visiting lectures.


We hope this article has been helpful

If you have any further questions or want to learn more about what we can do for your business, please contact us using the link or details below:

CONTACT US

Tel: 01908 255 525
Email: sales@spedan.co.uk